The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said April 2020 could have been the best for the beer and pub trade in a decade, if it weren't for the coronavirus lockdown.
The trade association, which tracks sales of beer in pubs and shops, estimates 35 million extra pints of beer would have been sold in April than under normal circumstances, due to the unseasonal sunny weather, with a total of 745 million pints sold across the month overall.
This would have made it the best April for beer sales in a decade, the trade association believes, due to it being the sunniest April on record as well as the fifth hottest.
In normal circumstances, the good weather would have been a welcome boost to the beer and pub trade, which has struggled in recent years.
Instead, the association said the government-enforced lockdown and closure of hospitality businesses is "devastating" pubs and brewers and risks permanent closures. Pubs were among the first businesses to be ordered to shut and could be among the last to reopen as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
The BBPA is therefore calling on the government to fill the "significant gaps in financial support" that pubs and brewers need to help see them through the crisis.
So far, only 40% of eligible pubs have received government grants to which they are entitled, and 10,000 of the UK's 47,000 pubs aren't eligible for any government grant support.
Individual tenants and lessees are experiencing great challenges with access to finance, with only 11% having had a successful application through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and 50% through their existing banking facilities.
The BBPA is also calling on the government to broaden access and speed up the delivery of this financial support, to help get pubs through the lockdown.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "April should have been a brilliant and much-needed boost for our sector – as many as 35 million extra pints could have been sold compared to normal. It's a great shame that communities have been unable to go to their local together and enjoy the sun in the beer garden for what was the sunniest April on record. Pubs losing this additional sales opportunity adds to their woes at this present time."
"We're all looking forward to pubs reopening so we can catch up with friends, families and neighbours over a beer once we are through this crisis. The stark truth though is that unless the government takes decisive action now to increase the financial support currently available, then pubs and breweries are at real risk of not surviving the lockdown and these pub and the jobs they support will be lost.
"For the sake of all the communities across the UK our pubs and breweries serve – and almost one million people employed by them – the government cannot allow them to close. Investing in pubs and breweries now is an investment for the future when we are all through this crisis."